Tags: mozambique | beer | contaminated | croc | bile

Mozambique Beer Contaminated With Croc Bile Blamed in Deaths

By    |   Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015 08:30 AM

Beer possibly contaminated with crocodile bile is being blamed for the deaths of at least 69 people in Mozambique and the hospitalization of 169 more who drank a home-brewed concoction after attending a funeral.

Most of the people were related to each other and attended a funeral Friday in the central Mozambique village of Chitima, Reuters reported state broadcasters as saying. Officials confirmed the first seven fatalities on Saturday.

"As we prepared to determine the cause of death of people we began to receive a lot of people with diarrhea and other muscle aches," said Paula Bernardo, the district director for Health, Women and Social Action in Mozambique. "After that we began to receive dead bodies from several neighborhoods."

Such home brews containing corn, sorghum or other crops are commonly consumed in many parts of Africa during funerals.

Crocodile bile was being blamed by at least one state health official as a possible cause for the illness and deaths, reported The Associated Press. The greenish-brown liquid, produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, was believed to have been put into the beer, district health authorities told the AP.

District health official Alex Albertini told Radio Mozambique crocodile bile poisoning was common in the area and could be the source of the deaths.

"When a crocodile is killed, the bile of the animal must be immediately removed and buried in front of witnesses to prove that it has not fallen into the wrong hands, to be used as poison, according to some African traditions."

David Kroll, who covers pharma and health care for Forbes, though, said the toxicity of crocodile bile has long been questioned and doubted enough of it could have been produced to kill so many people.

"Bile contains detergent molecules, called bile salts or bile acids, that animals use to dissolve or emulsify fats," Kroll wrote. "But more simply, bile salts or bile acids could conceivably be quite toxic in very high concentrations, as would any strong detergent. However, this isn't consistent with the amounts allegedly used in traditional poisoning cases."

"In the current tragedy in Mozambique, I can't imagine just how much bile would've had to be added to 210 liters of brew for so many deaths to occur," Kroll noted.

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Beer possibly contaminated with crocodile bile is being blamed for the deaths of at least 69 people in Mozambique and the hospitalization of 169 more who drank a home-brewed concoction after attending a funeral.
mozambique, beer, contaminated, croc, bile
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2015-30-13
Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015 08:30 AM
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